Dustin Curtis


Page 7

Arianna Huffington vs. AOL

Keach Hagey, at The Wall Street Journal:

Arianna Huffington acknowledged Thursday that her portfolio at AOL Inc. is being scaled back to include only the Huffington Post, undoing a structure put in place when her website was acquired by AOL last year.

After buying the Huffington Post for $315 million, AOL gave Ms. Huffington editorial oversight of all its properties, including tech-news site TechCrunch, the patch.com network of local news sites, MovieFone and MapQuest.

First, Engadget’s editor left. Then, some of Engadget’s writers left. After some incredibly damaging–and very public–fighting, Michael Arrington was fired. Yes, the most powerful man in tech journalism was fired from a company that is trying to become the future of journalism. In the months that have followed, practically the entire TechCrunch team has left.

People don’t get in the...

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Facebook’s numbers

I like to look at raw numbers every once in a while, without external influence, to recalibrate my ability to judge the magnitude of things. Here are some of the numbers from Facebook’s most recent S-1 filing (published on May 3rd) which I think are important as metrics to compare against when thinking about relative success and opportunity. (Sources are at the bottom.)

Total users and engagement

125,000 M Friendships
2,000 M Likes per day
1,000 M Comments posted per day
901 M Monthly active users
526 M Daily Active users
488 M Monthly active mobile users
302 M Photos uploaded each day

User penetration

85% Chile, Turkey, and Venezuela
60% India, the United Kingdom and the United States
30%-40% Brazil and Germany
20% Japan, Russia, and South Korea
0% China

Daily active users

526 M Worldwide total
152 M Europe
129 M US & Canada
126 M Rest of the world
119 M Asia

Monthly active...

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Bing knows who you are

I just went to Bing for the first time in a very, very long time, and saw something that I am not sure how to interpret. It knew who I was. It knew who my friends were. It knew my name, and it had my profile photo.

I’m not sure how much information Facebook is actually giving to Microsoft for this kind of integration to happen; at least with the Yelp integration, as far as I know, Facebook doesn’t actually send Yelp any information about you. But the Bing integration felt more personal, for some reason.

The feature that Yelp uses is called Instant Personalization. It’s interesting. And while at first I was shocked to see myself logged in on Bing, I’m going to reserve my judgement for a while. Because it’s also kind of awesome.

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Some of AOL’s shareholders are angry at the company’s management for being… well, bad at their jobs. One of AOL’s biggest shareholders is staging a coup d'état, and trying to win control of the board. AOL is fighting back, with press release from earlier today:

Dear Fellow Stockholder:

Since AOL became an independent public company in late 2009, AOL’s Board of Directors (“Board”) and senior management have successfully charted a new strategic and financial course for the Company. This new approach has significantly improved AOL’s results, enhanced the prospects for sustained growth, and created value for all stockholders.

You now face an important decision about the future of your investment in the Company. At our Annual Meeting of Stockholders on June 14, 2012, Starboard Value L.P. (“Starboard”), an AOL stockholder, is...

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Apple rejecting apps that integrate with Rdio and Dropbox

Apple is apparently rejecting apps that merely link to mobile webpages from which a user can sign up for a subscription service. Goran Daemon P, in a post on the Dropbox support forum:

Reason for rejection is the fact that if the user does not have Dropbox application installed then the linking authorization is done through Safari (as per latest SDK).

Once the user is in Safari it is possible for the user to click “Desktop version” and navigate to a place on Dropbox site where it is possible to purchase additional space.

Apple views this as “sending user to an additional purchase” which is against rules.

From the Hacker News thread, a similar story about Rdio integration from starnix17:

I had a simliar rejection because of my app’s Rdio integration. If the user had Rdio installed, my app would open the song in the Rdio native app. If the user...

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Rupert Murdoch ‘not fit’ to lead News Corp

Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person” to exercise stewardship of a major international company, a committee of MPs has concluded, in a report highly critical of the mogul and his son James’s role in the News of the World phone-hacking affair.

The Commons culture, media and sport select committee also concluded that James Murdoch showed “wilful ignorance”. […] “We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of major international company.”

There’s a thick line between respectable sleuthing and invasion of privacy. Unfortunately for News Corporation, that line is much thicker than the one between reporting and propaganda.

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RIM’s Failed Hail Mary

BlackBerry 10, which was released today at BlackBerry World in Orlando, was RIM’s last chance. It was their Hail Mary pass, to save the company. You’d think they would have spent the time to make sure they got it right, and that they would have focused on radically improving the user interface and experience to bring BlackBerry up to par with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7. It is almost impossible to comprehend, but they didn’t do that.

Instead, they released something uninspiring, uninteresting, and unfinished. That no one at RIM had the guts and authority to recognize the seriousness of their situation–the company is literally dying!–and say, “Hey, maybe we should wait until BlackBerry 10 is awesome before we release it,” is an ultimate demonstration of how RIM’s culture will lead to its now inevitable demise. This is what happens...

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Google’s coherent bouquet

Google owns search, but Facebook owns you. Which is more valuable for selling advertising? I think the next generation of finding things on the internet is going to require the use of both ends of the spectrum, and I believe Larry Page thinks Google is in a more serious crisis than many people realize.

A few weeks ago, Page posted something of a manifesto in his 2012 Update from the CEO. It is filled with great snippets of information about Google’s overall strategy and the philosophy currently driving the company. At the highest level, Page makes a statement about Google’s seemingly disparate products, which becomes a running theme through the rest of his letter:

Creating a simpler, more intuitive experience across Google has been another important focus. I have always believed that technology should do the hard work—discovery, organization, communication—so users can...

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No meaningful revenue

Facebook updated its IPO registration statement with information about the Instagram acquisition deal structure ($300M in cash, and 23 million shares). But something else caught my eye, that I glossed over the last time I read it: in the strategy section, after mentioning the Instagram deal:

We believe that mobile usage of Facebook is critical to maintaining user growth and engagement over the long term, and we are actively seeking to grow mobile usage, although such usage does not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue.

I think Facebook is terrified of the usage transition from desktop PCs to mobile. A billion dollars for Instagram, as an insurance policy to guarantee that the company will have an anchor in content creation on mobile, is worth every penny.

Revenue from mobile, at this stage, is practically worthless. It might even be less than worthless, because...

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The compounding returns of intelligence

Garry Tan brings this gem from Stephen Cohen, co-founder of Palantir, in a conversation with Peter Thiel and Max Levchin:

We tend to massively underestimate the compounding returns of intelligence. As humans, we need to solve big problems. If you graduate Stanford at 22 and Google recruits you, you’ll work a 9-to-5. It’s probably more like an 11-to-3 in terms of hard work. They’ll pay well. It’s relaxing. But what they are actually doing is paying you to accept a much lower intellectual growth rate. When you recognize that intelligence is compounding, the cost of that missing long-term compounding is enormous. They’re not giving you the best opportunity of your life. Then a scary thing can happen: You might realize one day that you’ve lost your competitive edge. You won’t be the best anymore. You won’t be able to fall in love with new stuff. Things are cushy where you are. You get...

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